Okazaki inspires League Cup win for Leicester

Leicester City 2:0 Liverpool

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Despite Liverpool’s total domination in the first half of this Carabao Cup 3rd round tie at the KPS on Tuesday night, an Okazaki-inspired City conjured up a 2-0 victory…

Craig Shakespeare made seven changes to his side, with Iborra and Dragovic making their debuts. But it was a youthful-looking Liverpool side, with Coutinho pulling the strings in midfield, that dominated play from the start, ending the half with 76% of the possession.
Although the Reds had 13 attempts on goal in the first half Hamer wasn’t that busy, with the City defence blocking most of them. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Grujic had their efforts blocked; Solanke fired one wide and Hamer saved a Coutinho shot.
Grujic thern headed wide from a corner and Coutinho sent another shot straight at Hamer.
With Slimani and Ulloa starved of service up front City’s first chance came in the 20th minute when Gray capped a run with a shot that was comfortably saved by Ward.
Liverpool then continued to tot up the chances, without troubling the scoreboard.
Solanke fired a shot over from close in, and had another effort blocked, before Robertson sent a left-footer wide.
An Oxlade-Chamberlain shot didn’t test Hamer, and the Coutinho missed the target with two other shots.
Having done virtually nothing but defend for 45 minutes, City had at least done that right, with a 0-0 scoreline that almost defied logic.

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In an apparently pre-ordained move Coutinho was withdrawn at the break, and with him went most of Liverpool’s creativity.
The second major turning point of the game came in the 53rd minute when Ulloa had to go off after falling heavily and was replaced by Okazaki.
The Japanese international instantly brought the near sell-out crowd to life with a strong run through the middle that showed more energy and positivity than anything they had witnessed in the whole first half.
Gray then went on a run through the middle, but sent his long range effort narrowly wide of the right hand post.
It was much improved performance from City and they took a 65th minute lead.
A ball forward from Chilwell saw Morgan win an aerial duel, Iborra nodded the ball into Okazaki’s path, and he steered it home from 12 yards out.

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Liverpool continued to waste chances. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Woodburn both cleared the bar, while Ings failed to make proper contact with a header from close in.
City gave them another spectacular lesson in finishing in the 78th minute when Slimani, running along the 18 yard line launched an unstoppable shot into the top left hand corner.
City almost made it 3-0 two minutes later when Gray cut in from the left and sent a shot towards the bottom right hand corner that Ward did well to palm round the post.

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Young prospect Choudhury made his first appearance replacing Ndidi in the 84th minute, as City saw the game out.
City were into the 4th round of the Carabao Cup, an outcome you wouldn’t have believed at half time. This game highlighted the importance of Shinji Okazaki to the side in the current set-up.
Craig Shakespeare paid tribute to Okazaki: “He has got his head down and trained impeccably but that is the character of the man. He won’t change. He has always been like that. He has walked away with the man of the match trophy and he didn’t even play half the game. That just shows you the level of his contribution and impact he was able to make from the bench.”

Leicester: Hamer, Amartey, Morgan, Dragovic, Chilwell, Albrighton, Ndidi (Choudhury 84), Iborra, Gray, Ulloa (Okazaki 53), Slimani. Substitutes: Iheanacho, Musa, Jakupovic, Mahrez, Benalouane.
Liverpool: Ward, Flanagan, Gomez, Klavan, Robertson, Wijnaldum (Ings 73), Henderson, Grujic, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Coutinho (Woodburn 45). Substitutes: Karius, Milner, MorenoMarkovic, Alexander-Arnold.

Referee: S Attwell. Attendance: 31,609.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

———————————————————-

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Leicester scrape a draw at Huddersfield

Huddersfield Town 1:1 Leicester City

Huddersfield Town v Leicester City, Premier League, 16 September 2017

City failed to impress at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, but came away with a point from Huddersfield thanks to a Jamie Vardy penalty…

Craig Shakespeare made three changes to his side, with James injured and Fuchs surffering an eye injury on the training ground, bringing in King and Chilwell, while Iheanacho made his full debut up front.

The raucous atmosphere from a set of fans who are absolutely chuffed to be in the Premier League spurred Town on to a lively start. They were on top in the opening spell, and Depoitre looked impressive on his debut, sending a thumping header into Schmiechel’s grasp.
While City were squandering possession, Town played with more urgency and were dominating possession.
City’s first chance came in the 18th minute when Smith slid in with a fine tackle as Iheanacho was about to pull the trigger.

Huddersfield Town v Leicester City, Premier League, 16 September 2017

The game settled into a midfield hustle and bustle, with few moments of inspiration, and it was a minute before the break before City went close again, Vardy hooking an effort over the bar from a tight angle.

If the first half had been deservedly goalless, the game burst into life 40 seconds after the break. Kachunga played a ball forward to Depoitre, and the big Belgian turned Maguire and then raced ahead of him to slot an angled drive past Schmeichel.
There was pandemonium in the home areas, but City struck back within four minutes.
King played a one two with Iheanacho, and burst into the area, where his progress was halted by a trip from Lowe.
Vardy blasted his penalty down the middle and it was all square again.

Huddersfield Town v Leicester City, Premier League, 16 September 2017

Huddersfield found the net again in the 61st minute, but Kachunga was ruled to be offside when he got a head to Jorgensen’s cross/shot from six yards out. It looked to be a very marginal decision that got City off the hook.
Soon after this Williams sent a 25 yarder narrowly wide.
Craig Shakespeare made a couple of changes, bringing Gray on for Albrighton and then Okazaki for Iheanacho.
Okazaki almost had an instant impact, racing down the right and cutting a ball back for Mahrez, who flashed a ball across goal. Incredibly, what looked like an easy sidefoot home was completely missed by Vardy from two yards out.

Huddersfield Town v Leicester City, Premier League, 16 September 2017

In the 78th minute Mooy teed up Ince for a shot which curled two inches wide of the left hand post.
But Huddersfield hearts were in mouths in the 89th minute. Ndidi sent Gray in on the right and he tumbled in the penalty area under a Jorgensen challenge. Referee Jon Moss rightly ignored the penalty appeals with replays showing minimal contact.

At the final whistle both sides had to be content with a point, with Huddersfield the more disappointed.
Craig Shakespeare admitted:  “I think we have to look at it as a good point, I thought we were second best in the first half and if you’d offered me a point at half-time I would have taken it. We created more chances in the second half but I have to give credit to Huddersfield, they did to us what we normally do to teams.”

Huddersfield: Lössl, Smith, Jorgensen, Schindler, Löwe, Williams, Mooy, Kachunga (Quaner 74), Sabiri (Hogg 82), Ince, Depoitre (van La Parra 90).
Substitutes: Malone, Billing, Coleman, Hefele.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Chilwell, Mahrez, Ndidi, King, Albrighton (Gray 65), Iheanacho (Okazaki 69), Vardy (Slimani 82). Substitutes: Hamer, Dragovic, Amartey, Iborra.
Referee: J Moss. Attendance: 24,129.

ALL PHOTOS: Simon Kimber.

———————————————————-

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Kante strike sees Leicester edged out by Chelsea

Leicester City 1:2 Chelsea

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Goals from Morata and Kante were enough to ease Champions Chelsea to victory over City at the KPS on Saturday.

With Okazaki suffering from jet lag after international duty, Slimani made the starting line-up, the only change to Craig Shakespeare’s side. Adrien ’14 seconds’ Silva watched from the stands, and Danny Drinkwater from the Chelsea bench.
In a lively opening spell Morata saw his shot saved by Schmeichel, while Vardy’s low cross from the left flashed across the goalmouth with no blue shirt on hand to apply a finishing touch.
Vardy then chased down Courtois after the Chelsea keeper took a poor first touch to a back pass, but the clearance was made with inches to spare.
Chelsea then settled into their stride and City had some defending to do, with Morgan producing a couple of vital blocks to keep them at bay.

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In the 25th minute City broke upfield and Mahrez set up Vardy for a shot across Courtois that beat the far post by a couple of yards.
Morgan then produced another good block to deny Morata.
Chances were rare for City, with Chelsea dominating possession,  but they should have taken the lead five minutes before the break.
Mahrez raced upfield, with Vardy unmarked on his left, but as the Chelsea defence caught up he opted to pass to Slimani whose shot was brilliantly saved by Courtois.
A minute later this missed opportunity was compounded when Chelsea took the lead.
Azpilicueta delivered an inch perfect cross from the right and Morata rose above Morgan to plant a header past Schmeichel.
As City pressed forward looking for an instant reply James had a shot blocked by Bakayoko.
In a sudden heavy shower, the last action of the half saw Schmeichel save a well-struck Moses effort.

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Craig Shakespeare had a reshuffle at the break, bringing Gray and King on for Slimani and Albrighton, but City went two goals down five minutes into the second half.
Kante was given an acre of space to line up a 25 yard shot which Schmeichel saw late, and it crept beyond his reach into the bottom left hand corner.
City had a big job on now, and Chelsea were content to sit back and let them try to pick their way through with everyone behind the ball.
After much sideways passing to little effect City got a break on the hour when Courtois clumsily upended Vardy in the box.
Although it looked as though Mahrez wanted to claim the spot kick, before James dissuaded him, Vardy placed the ball and crashed it home.

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With City pressing forward in search of an equaliser referee Lee Mason then angered the home crowd following a clash of heads between James and Willian, that looked like a foul on the City player. Not only did Mason proceed with a drop ball, but he told Vardy it couldn’t be contested, somewhat exceeding his juristiction.
Iheanacho then replaced James as City looked to strengthen their forward line.
Although Willian went close with a couple of efforts, City piled on the pressure with time running out.
Vardy was inches short of getting his head to a King cross, and the Chelsea defence dealt with crosses from Fuchs and Gray.

The final whistle heralded a third defeat in four games which, despite the toughness of the opening fixtures, was not a good start to the season.

Craig Shakespeare summed up:  “When we got back to 2-1 we just couldn’t find that final bit that was required to get something from the game and I just feel at the moment the big moments aren’t going our way.”

With City at the wrong end of the table, some big moments need to start going their way soon.

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, Ndidi, James (Iheanacho 78), Albrighton (King 45), Slimani (Gray 45), Vardy. Subs Not Used: Chilwell, Hamer, Amartey, Ulloa.
Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Rüdiger, Moses (Zappacosta 74), Kanté, Bakayoko, Alonso, Pedro (Willian 63), Fàbregas (Hazard 78), Morata. Subs Not Used: Caballero, Drinkwater, Batshuayi, Christensen.
Referee: L Mason. Attendance: 30,923.


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Leicester sunk by subs at Old Trafford

Manchester United 2:0 Leicester City

1718 man utd away

Late lapses from City denied them a point from a decent display, with United subs Rashford and Fellaini sealing a 2-0 win for the early pacesetters.

Craig Shakespeare stuck with the starting XI that beat Brighton, and they got off to a good start, although Morgan had to block a Mkhitaryan shot in the first minute.
At the other end, a curling 25 yarder from James went narrowly wide.
A long ball forward then evaded Vardy by inches as de Gea came out to collect.
Morgan blocked another Mkhitaryan shot, the ball looping up into Schmeichel’s grasp as Mata closed in.
United had the ball in City’s net in the 18th minute, when Schmeichel saved a Lukaku shot but Mata netted the rebound. The offside flag looked harsh.
United had a head of steam up now and Pogba met a Martial cross at the far post but sent his shot back across goal and wide of the left hand post.
A minute later Schmeichel stretched to save a Mata effort that was heading for the top left hand corner.
A rare atack for City saw Vardy collect a long ball and tee up Okazaki for a low 20 yard shot that de Gea saved comfortably.
With United pressing forward again, Pogba unleashed a 25 yarder that narrowly beat the the left hand post.
Pogba followed this up with a couple more long range efforts that went well wide, and then continued his shooting frenzy as half time approached, forcing a good save from Schmeichel and sending another one narrowly wide.
It was all United up to the break, but Lukaku sent a header wide and City held out.

City were still on the back foot early in the second half, and United were awarded a penalty when Simpson handled a Martial cross that hit him on the arm from close range. It looked harsh, but Lukaku sent his spot kick too close to Schmeichel, who pulled off a fine save.
City then had an attacking spell of their own, with Mahrez looking dangerous. He skinned Jones inside the area, but de Gea managed to block his near post shot.
Craig Shakepeare made a double change on the hour, bringing on Gray for Albrighton, and King for Okazaki and Gray was soon haring forward, though his pass to Mahrez was too late and his shot was blocked by Jones.
Mahrez then tricked his way past Blind before firing a shot across goal, but no blue shirt was on hand to divert it goalwards.
In the 67th minute Mourinho brought Rashford on for Mata and the game swung in United’s favour again.
Rashford had a shot blocked by Maguire, who had been superb in City’s defence again, but the sub didn’t have long to wait for a goal.
A Mkhitaryan corner from the right found Rashford, completely unmarked ten yards out, and his sidefooted effort struck the turf and deceived Schmeichel, spinning through his attempted parry.
Slimani replaced Vardy as Shakespeare sought a way back into the game, but it was a United sub, Fellaini who would seal the game for United.
In the 82nd minute, United’s 100% start was confirmed when Lingard fired a shot goalwards and Fellaini stuck out a knee to divert it into the net. He looked fractionally offside, but the goal stood, and there was no way back for City.
In time added on Gray delivered a low cross from the right, but King’s near post effort was blocked by de Gea.
Lukaku’s last chance at becoming the first United player to score in his first three games was frustrated by a Morgan block.
It was a decent showing from City, but United were already looking like title contenders.
Craig Shakespeare summed up: “We knew we would have to frustrate them coming here and for large parts of the game, I thought we did that and did it really well. Of course we needed to do a bit better with the ball at times but I felt for large chucks of the game to 70 or 75 minutes, we did. We frustrated and restricted them. We knew they’d have moments. Then they managed to capitalise on the big moments.”

United: de Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind, Pogba, Matic, Mata (Rashford 67), Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 74), Martial (Lingard 76) Lukaku. Subs Not Used: Smalling, Romero, Herrera, Darmian.
Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, James, Ndidi, Albrighton (Gray 60), Okazaki (King 60), Vardy (Slimani 76). Subs Not Used: Chilwell, Iheanacho, Hamer, Amartey.

Referee: M Oliver. Attendance: 75,021.


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Leicester ease past Blades with second half show

Sheffield United 1: 4 Leicester City

1718 sheff utd away

City progressed in the Carabao Cup with a 4-1 win, eventually overcoming some spirited resistance from Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night.

The League Cup’s latest incarnation still appears to be a chance for squad players to turn out, with both sides making eight changes from their last league outings, and there were plenty of empty seats at Bramall Lane, apart from in the away end.

The first half didn’t reward those who had turned out to watch, with a goalless battle of attrition unfolding.
After a nervous moment when former-Blade Maguire received lengthy treatment after a foul by Lafferty, City had an early attacking spell. This came to nought after a couple of sliced crosses from Musa, who then fired a shot into the side-netting.
United carved out a couple of chances, but a shot from Carruthers and an Evans header both went straight into Hamer’s chest.
Gray forced a save from Eastwood, and Brooks attempt on goal almost squirmed under Hamer.
City began to get the upper hand towards the break, with Slimani having a goalbound shot blocked by Wright, and Chilwell forcing a good save from Eastwood.

City were unchanged for the second half, but stepped things up a gear, and went ahead in the 52nd minute.
It was Gray who produced a moment of magic, cutting in from the left wing and accelerating through three United defenders before slotting the ball through Eastwood’s legs.
The lead was doubled ten minutes later when a precise through ball from King sent Slimani in to round the keeper and sidefoot into an an empty net.
Eastwood produced a fine save to deny Gray’s curling shot, before City added a third in the 67th minute. Gray’s cross from the right fell perfectly for Slimani to scuff home at he far post.
Although United pulled a goal back in the 83rd minute, when what looked a like a mishit cross from Lavery caught Hamer out at his near post, the result was long beyond doubt.
City added a fourth in time added on when Musa, who hadn’t had a great game, persisted to the last. He battled his way round two challenges before firing into the roof of the net with the last kick of the game.

Craig Shakespeare was happy with the performance of Gray: “He has given me food for thought. The idea before the game was to give the squad and the players the game time which they needed and they answered in the right way.”

The Carabao Cup third-round draw takes place at 4.15am BST on Thursday, in Beijing.
We won’t be setting our alarm clocks.

Sheff Utd: Eastwood, Freeman, Wright, Basham 68), Connell, Baldock (Coutts 68), Brooks, Lundstram, Carruthers, Lafferty, Evans (Sharp 62), Lavery. Subs Not Used: Stevens, Basham, Thomas, Sharp, Coutts, Duffy, Blackman.
Leicester: Hamer, Amartey, Maguire (Knight 81), Fuchs, Chilwell, Musa, Ndidi (Mendy 77), King, Gray, Ulloa, Slimani. Subs Not Used: Vardy, Albrighton, Jakupovic, Okazaki, Mahrez.

Referee: T Harrington. Attendance: 11,280.

—————————————————————–

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Leicester coast to victory over Brighton

Leicester City 2:0 Brighton & Hove Albion

1718 brighton home c

City eased their way to victory against a toothless Brighton side, with goals from Okazaki and Maguire at the KPS on Saturday…

City, with an unchanged starting line-up from the Arsenal game, set the tone inside a minute, taking the lead against the Premier League new boys.
Mahrez shimmied round Seagulls left back Suttner as though he wasn’t there, and fired in a low shot which Ryan could only parry out to Okazaki, who gleefully netted from six yards.

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City should have gone 2-0 up after a defensive error saw Okazaki break through in the 16th minute, but his cut back to Vardy saw Duffy blocking two scuffed efforts from the England striker.
Okazaki then sent Vardy in on goal, but Ryan raced off his line to meet him, taking a blow to the face for his trouble.
Brighton had little to offer going forward, and although their first attack saw Murray volleying into the net, a linesman’s flag for offside halted the celebrations.
Brigthon’s other notable attempt on goal saw Morgan block a fierce shot, but penalty appeals were turned down.
City were happy to let Brighton have possession, but they couldn’t convert it into chances, and City threatened on the break.
Vardy delivered a cross from the right which Okazaki met at the near post, but he directed his effort just the wrong side of the upright.
The half ended with lengthy treatment for Duffy, after an aerial collision with Okazaki.

City continued to look comfortable in the second half and doubled their lead in the 54th minute. A Mahrez corner from the right saw Maguire rise at the far post to nod past Ryan. This capped a superb performance from City’s new centre-half, who had treated the home crowd to several surging runs out of defence, combined with incisive passing, making his £17m fee look like a bargain.

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Mahrez, who had also had a fine game, then looked set to wriggle and pirouette his way through a crowd of yellow shirts, before being halted by a strong challenge.
At this stage Knockaert was introduced to the action and received a huge ovation from the home crowd,  but he had little chance to impress, with City now in charge of the proceedings.

1718 brighton home a

Another surging run forward from Maguire saw him fouled on the edge of the area, but Albrighton’s free-kick was blocked by Knockaert.
The game then drifted towards its inevitable conclusion. Hemed forced a saved from the under-employed Schmeichel with a well struck 25 yarder, and then Okazaki was replaced by Slimani after putting in another huge shift.
The final spell of the game saw a couple of injury worries, with Morgan looking to have tweaked his troublesome back again, and Vardy limping off after a collision with Ryan.
The final whistle heralded City’s first win of the season, which was essential looking at the upcoming fixtures.
Craig Shakepeare was happy: “When you get a start like that it’s very pleasing. It was hard to break them down today but it was a professional performance to the end. It didn’t feel as comfortable as the stats suggest. We learned cruelly about game management last week, but to get the first win under the belt was the main thing.”

Leicester: Schmeichel, Simpson, Morgan, Maguire, Fuchs, Mahrez, James, Ndidi, Albrighton, Okazaki (Slimani 75), Vardy (Gray 90). Subs Not Used: Chilwell, King, Hamer, Amartey, Ulloa.
Brighton: Ryan, Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Suttner, March, Propper, Stephens, Murphy, Grob (Knockaert 62), Murray (Hemed 66). Subs Not Used: Bong, Hunemeier, Skalak, Maenpaa, Rosenior.

Referee: L Probert. Attendance: 31,902.

PHOTOS: Simon Kimber


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The FOX Summer Special 2017 – on sale before today’s game v Brighton

The 27th annual FOX Summer Special will be on sale outside the ground before today’s game…

cover blog

It features: An interview with former City-midfielder Bobby Roberts, a review of the up and down 2016-17 season, ‘On Wednesday Nights…’ a look back at City’s European adventure, the verdict on the latest puma kit, LCFC via the lens of Twitter, a Guide to the Premier League 2017-18, Rewind – to the 1992 Play-Off against Cambridge, Your Favourite Shirts, The Fox Player, Goal and Villain of the season are revealed, Simon Kimber on 375 days of being Champions,  Foxed in the Head reflects on his Sand Kop and other holiday memories, John Hutchinson looks at Elephant Penalties and other sports, the Best of Bentley’s Roof and your letters; and Frank goes to Skeggy…

frank skek blog

The most fun you can have for £3.

Bobby Roberts Interview extract…

bobby r blog

FOX: Your first professional club was Motherwell, but in those days players often had another trade too…

BR:  Yes, I served my time as an apprentice painter. I did the full five years of that.
It makes me laugh when I hear about players being tired now. We played against Rangers on a Wednesday night at Ibrox, a cup replay. I think only about four Motherwell players were full time, so the rest of us were working. That day I worked from 8 until 4 and then caught the train to Glasgow, we played Rangers, who were all full-time players, and beat them 5-2. There were 85,000 there.
Tired? I know the game is different now, but come on.
When I left work for the game, they told me I couldn’t put in for the full eight hours, only seven hours. “We cannae pay you when you aren’t here.”

FOX: You were from Edinburgh, how did you end up at Motherwell?

BR: The team I played for at under-17s level, the guy who managed us, his father was a Motherwell scout for years, so he sent a lot of players over.

FOX: Was it most players ambition to make a move down to England then?

BR: Well, in my case, I had been friends with Davie Gibson in Edinburgh, and he came down to Leicester and got into the FA Cup Final in his first season down there. Me and a friend flew down to watch the match, thinking they were going to beat Manchester United easily, but they got hammered to be honest. I think they’d played on these terrible pitches through that bad winter and Wembley was just a beautiful surface and I think it suited United better.
But I thought, I’d like a bit of this. Davie had been telling me how good things were at Leicester, and the money was much better in England.
I think most young Scottish players had a burning ambition to play at Wembley. The only way you could that back then was either playing for Scotland against England, or get to the FA Cup Final.
These days there are all sorts of ways to get to play at Wembley, but then it was one or the other.


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